Wineskins Archive

December 9, 2013

Assurances and Warnings (May 2012)

Filed under: — @ 8:20 pm and

By Edward Fudge

A gracEmail reader asks how to resolve the tension between seemingly conflicting lines of biblical teaching. “Some passages offer words of assurance,” he writes, “while others utter words of warning. Which is it? Or can these somehow both be true? ”

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The New Testament assures us in very certain terms. Whoever believes has eternal life (John 3:15). God guards the believer by his divine power (1 Pet. 1:5). No one can snatch the believer from God’s grasp (John 10:29). The New Testament also sternly warns and cautions. Whoever thinks they stand strong should be careful lest they fall (1 Cor. 10:12). Christ will present you to God, writes Paul, if you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast (Col. 1:22-23). The crown of life is for those who are faithful even if it means dying for Jesus (Rev. 2:10). Some Christians emphasize the assurances. Other Christians emphasize the warnings. Too often, they simply toss Scripture grenades back and forth. Far better to find a window through which to view the entire scene together.

That window is God’s eternal purpose. He has a plan and he will finish what he has started (Phil. 1:6). Part of that plan calls for us also to finish what we have started (Col. 1:22-23). God keeps us, and we keep on. We keep on, and God keeps us. Divine preserving and human perseverance are the inside and outside of the same reality. We cannot choose one and reject the other. We cannot experience one without experiencing the other. In my opinion, the book that sets out both truths most ably and most clearly is Our Secure Salvation: Preservation and Apostasy, by my friend and brother Robert Peterson (who presents the case for unending torment and opposes my case for the final extinction of the wicked in Two Views of Hell).

Jesus taught us in parables in Matthew 13 that some seed falls on the hard pathway and the birds eat it. Some seed lands in shallow soil, on stony ground, or among the thorns. Although it germinates and sends up shoots, the sun scorches it and it dies, or the thorns choke out its life. Or, to change the picture, God’s field also contains weeds that look like good grain. Our questions about our security usually arise because some people profess faith who do not truly believe. Some pretend to be regenerated who actually have no life from above. Some apparent believers are really only professing believers. God knows those who are his, but we can be deceived — even about ourselves. When you forget everything else, just remember these two truths. The believer is always secure. The make-believer is not.

Copyright 2012 by Edward Fudge. You are urged to reproduce, reprint or forward this gracEmail, but only in its entirety, without change and without financial profit.

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